‘The Silence’ Movie: How to Botch Storytelling in Every Way Imaginable

The Silence, The Silence movie, screenwriting, Kristen Lamb
Nope. I am telling EVERYONE.

The Silence, for those who don’t know, is an Amazon Original movie. I guess ‘original’ is one descriptor, though I can think of a lot more accurate ones. ‘Rage-inducing,’ ‘insult to horror movies,’ ‘bad knock-off,’ and ‘intellectually insulting’ are a few that immediately come to mind.

First of all, for the newbies, there are no new stories. To be blunt, virtually every ‘new’ story is derivative in some way and needs to be. Trust me. When I was a beginner, I believed I had to craft ‘the story never told before.’ Not only is that a literary Sasquatch, but even if we’re by some slim chance successful?

The story won’t sell.

We want to be able to pitch an idea and say, “Well, if you like X, then you’ll LOVE my story.” This is why places like Amazon have those auto-populated suggestions that tell us what people who enjoyed X Book or X Movie ALSO liked.

Fans tend to be parochial, which is great for sales, btw.

But there is a HUGE difference between a movie that uses elements of similar idea and a ham-fisted attempt to glory grab off the success of another.

Same-but-Different SELLS

The Silence movie might have been able to capitalize on this same-but-different advantage, but failed miserably. The movie began as a novel by the same title, The Silence by Tim Lebbon.

***For the record, I had NO idea The Silence was originally a novel until I began writing this rant post…which was why I delayed publishing this blog. I wanted to read the novel for myself to affirm my suspicions/opinion that the producers and screenwriters should all be flayed fired.

Oddly, this is one of those rare times I read the novel after seeing the ‘movie.’ It was a riveting book, layered, emotional, and incredibly well-written with memorable/dimensional characters. But as a screenplay?

*sobs uncontrollably*

Not every premise translates well to the visual medium unless the screenwriters are willing to make some major changes that keep the original premise in tact. What peeves me the most is this.

Had the screenwriters simply adhered to some storytelling fundamentals, they could have easily maneuvered The Silence off the page and onto the screen while also keeping the story’s core brilliance in tact.

*rails at heavens*

The Silence Movie as Bad Knock-Off

To understand why I was so peeved, what exactly was Amazon trying to copy?


In my opinion? Bird Box. Josh Malerman’s Bird Box wasn’t just a beautifully written and utterly terrifying book, but the story concept translated extremely well to screen and was a massively successful film.

The screenwriters didn’t stick to the book exactly, because that’s impossible to do in the comparably short time a feature film affords. But they did condense and refit what needed to change in order to maximize the story on screen.

In Bird Box, ‘something’ starts happening. We don’t know what it is, only that people see SOMETHING that then causes them to go violently insane. The phenomena quickly spreads across the globe.

The day chaos hits home, the main character, the VERY pregnant Malorie, is with her sister getting an ultrasound. While leaving the hospital, everything hits the fan, and Malorie has no choice but to take refuge in a house full of total strangers who become her lifeline.

Malorie must survive in a world where vision (our single most relied upon sense) could be a death sentence for her as well as anyone around her.

The Silence, The Silence movie, Bird Box, screenwriting, Kristen Lamb

Over the course of the story, Malorie remains pinned in a house with a host of exceptionally layered characters who regularly clash. Their personalities alone create so much tension you think you might shatter any moment. This was executed superbly in the book (which is almost always better) but ALSO in the movie (which is rare).

THAT is great horror writing. For the record, slasher movies are to horror what porn is to epic romance. Believe it or not, horror is one of the toughest genres to write well and as close to literary fiction as one can get (when done properly).

Horror is less about the monsters/threat, and more about how we—humans—respond and the ways we change for good and bad because of the monsters/threat.

In the Bird Box world, stress is heaped upon stress. Going outside could risk everyone’s lives. Yet, they must go outside to get supplies, fresh water, etc. and do all of this completely blinded.

Add in that not everyone in the group agrees on the nature or level of the danger? That supplies are running low and they can’t remain in the house forever?

Welcome to a cauldron simply waiting to boil over.

The Silence Meets the Bright Idea Fairy

Now that I’ve explained a bit about Bird Box, the only plausible explanation I have for The Silence (movie) is Amazon was miffed by Netflix’s success with Bird Box. They probably sent some intern to hunt for a similar book that focused on one of the other five senses turned horribly wrong…and said intern found Lebbon’s The Silence.

The tricky part about horror—as I’ve already mentioned—is that a lot of the best stories only work on the page. Actually a lot of fiction doesn’t translate well to screen.

Drama is a good example. Unless you have superlative screenwriters and Oscar-caliber actors? You’re likely in for a three-hour snooze-fest where all the characters seem absurdly emo or perpetually constipated.

But back to horror…

On the page, the reader is in the heads of the characters. You can hide a lot of information and make the reader feel emotions, inner turmoils, and the ever-ratcheting tension. It’s also easier to misdirect, obfuscate, and give only enough detail for the readers’ imaginations to fill in the blanks.

And the human imagination is always more terrifying.

Before I proceed? HUGE HIGH FIVE to Tim Lebbon for scoring a movie deal off his novel.

My advice? Skip the movie and read the book…unless you want to see what all I am about to gripe about for yourself.

Tim, I am so sorry for what they did to your lovely novel, but hoping you make tons of money and zillions of new fans, regardless.

That aside…

Like always, everything here is merely my opinion, so take with a grain of salt…and maybe add in a shot of tequila.

What We Don’t Know Will Kill Us…in Scarier Ways

The Silence, The Silence movie, screenwriting, storytelling, Kristen Lamb

The first MAJOR problem for me, regarding The Silence movie, was they gave away too much too soon. I read the book to see how this was handled in comparison to the movie.

As I suspected, Lebbon didn’t provide a lot of detail about the creatures (known as Vesps), how they’re able to so rapidly overwhelm entire countries, how they hunted (sound), and why they’re virtually indestructible until almost halfway into the book…thus confirming my suspicions that the screenwriters are to blame!


Revealing too much too soon was the first, and maybe one of the largest mistakes, the moviemakers did with The Silence.

***This is also a rookie writing mistake. Learn to be SECRET-KEEPERS!

In The Silence movie, we (the audience) see a team of cavers break into a cavern and unleash a flood of vicious primordial creatures. Creatures that have been trapped in a world of silent darkness for a gazillion years in a completely isolated ecosystem. Not too far into the movie, we SEE the creatures up close.

Bad move.

The screenwriters could have had a flurry of something escaping, something hunting and kept the characters (and viewers) in the dark about how to evade being Vesp food for as long as possible (BE QUIET). But the moment we saw what humanity was up against? Knew how to outmaneuver it?


Okay, so giant blind pterodactyls dumb enough to swarm into a wood chipper because it makes noise. We can deal with that.


What made Bird Box, the book and movie, so scary is we never knew precisely WHAT was making people go violently insane. We never even knew if it had evil intentions.

Maybe it was an alien race that, when viewed, simply surpassed the ceiling of human comprehension and broke our brains. Perhaps it was a military experiment gone awry. Maybe it was a spray tanning product gone terribly wrong.

Part of the fear factor is no one knew, and there was no way TO know.

In Bird Box, even watching video of the ‘whatever’ created the same effect. Suffice to say that sometimes our audience might want to know certain information, but just because they want it, doesn’t mean we should give it.

Pick a Villain from the Get-Go

I’ve done a lot of blogs and teaching about log-lines over the years. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to realize this movie is going to SUUUUCK by simply glancing at the log-line…which, again, I only did afterwards.

*hangs head in shame*

In my defense, I use movies to teach what to do and what NOT to do. I suffer for my art…and for y’all 😛 .

With the world under attack by deadly creatures who hunt by sound, a teen and her family seek refuge outside the city and encounter a mysterious cult.

Netflix log-line for an AMAZON movie, LOL

If you want my formula for a log-line, it’s pretty much this:

Intriguing Protagonist + Antagonist/Story Problem + Active Goal + Ticking Clock + Stakes = STORY

A teen and her family is meh at best. Looking for refuge. Oh-kay. Um, who wouldn’t when the world is under attack by deadly creatures? In the novel, the family had an actual/physical destination. Every setback and disaster that kept them from reaching their specific goal wound the tension tighter.

Yet, in the movie, the vague ‘escape to the countryside’ offers no solid anchor, no focused objective and thus makes it impossible to generate authentic dramatic tension.

But the bee in my bonnet? Encounter a mysterious cult.

‘Encountering’ is boring. ‘Mysterious’ is even MORE boring. Maybe murderous? Bat$#!t crazy? What are the stakes? What’s the ticking timeline? Has the family discovered that there’s shelter, but they only have enough room/supplies for so many people? And this cult is stopping them every step of the way, threatening not only their lives, but slowing them down enough that they might lose all hope of refuge from the Vesps?



Quick! Throw in a CULT!

The Silence, The Silence movie, screenwriting, Kristen Lamb

It’s like someone went, “Well, we’ve done a lot of CGI and people might be bored with neurotic pterodactyls. QUICK! Throw in a CULT!”

The cult actually could have possibly turned this travesty around, but they came in too late. In Stephen King’s The Mist (which never really shows the monsters, btw), it’s the people who supply most of the terror.

It’s truly bonkers how rapidly humans can devolve into quackery when the world goes to hell in a hand basket. Yet, in The Mist, the super religious nut—who eventually creates murderous chaos—is present and already stoking trouble in Act ONE.

It wasn’t as if King had an eerie mist teeming with giant tentacles that tore people apart for most of the movie…then thirty minutes before the end? Half the trapped shoppers suddenly found religion.

If the cult was going to be part of the movie, they needed to be there from the get-go. Or a proxy. Otherwise? Kristen is screaming and throwing things and talking about herself in third-person.

World-Building has RULES, Even in The Silence

This was handled in the book a million times better, obviously. But, this doesn’t give the screenwriters a pass. With some minor changes, they could have taken a world ideal for the page and refitted it for the visual medium.

Clearly, they didn’t.

What did they do wrong? Whenever we build a different world, we as ‘Author God’, are responsible for establishing the rules. If those rules can be broken, then we are also in charge of working out the special circumstances where said rules can be broken.

First, we’ll dissect the creatures in The Silence *bada bump snare*

According to the movie, these critters been trapped in a world with no light, and, like many cave-dwelling animals, have no eyes and hunt by sound. Fair point. But even bats are nocturnal. They don’t hunt all hours of the day and they don’t attack everything. Attacking everything (in nature) is pointless and needlessly uses up energy.

Same with a blog, but I’m on a roll here, folks…

Anyway, being trapped in a world with no light would probably also make the Vesps super photosensitive. Why don’t these critters need SPF 450 to keep from bursting into flames like my Irish family members?

Also, in The Silence movie, every single sound—and I mean every single sound—throws the Vesps into berserker mode. That would get exhausting pretty quickly, especially since the world outside of a cave sealed off from the surface is a pretty darned noisy place.

Which begs the question….

If the creatures are set off by even the tiniest of sounds, then why not turn on every noisy contraption we have? If the father in the movie could flip on a wood chipper and make the Vesps divebomb blindly straight into a metaphorical Vespsa-Mix, then why are the humans being SO quiet?

Line the cities with wood chippers and loud speakers playing Brittany Spears’ Oops, I Did It Again on a loop. Not only for protection but also for some AWESOME dark irony 😀 .

Military: Hey, we still have those Barney & Friends VHS tapes? Should work on that cult, too.

It doesn’t make sense.

The movie has plenty of moments where a character even lightly stepping on gravel is enough to attract frantic Vesp attention, but here’s the thing. Nature is LOUD. Yes, the country is quietER than the big cities, but far from silent.

Every moving branch, lowing cow, and skittering squirrel would have the Vesps flinging themselves around to the point they’d be in therapy and on a high dose of Xanax within a couple weeks.

Instead of creeping along using sign language, why wasn’t this family using sound to their advantage? Leaving an alarm clock, radio, cell phone behind to attract the creatures away from them until they make it to the next leg of the journey?

Oh! I forgot! The cult. Wait…they’re late to the set. Never mind.

Character Choice Matters

What I’ve not mentioned to this point is that the teenage protagonist of The Silence is deaf. She lost her hearing in an accident. By the time the Vesps emerge, it’s been long enough for the family to learn sign language.

Again, this works on the page, but on the screen? They are too perfect a choice for a world where one has to (theoretically) be silent to survive.


In Bird Box, we eventually learn that the blind had a natural advantage from the beginning because obviously they couldn’t SEE whatever was making regular people with sight go bananas. They could get along just fine because of their super-heightened senses of hearing, smell, touch, etc. that they’d developed since they’d never been able to rely on vision.

But, let me point out we learn this AT THE END.

In Bird Box, Malorie can see. She’s automatically at a major disadvantage in that she’s lived all the way into her adult life relying heavily on one of the five (or six) senses. She has to either hone those other senses or she’s doomed, as well as her unborn child.

After she gives birth, she has to take babies with perfectly healthy vision and train them to live as if they were born blind. This is all a colossal undertaking from the get-go.

‘The Silence,’ No Conflict, No Arc, Weak Story

Back to The Silence. As for the teenage Ally (neat spelling there), she already knows how to live as a deaf person from the moment the crisis begins. More importantly, though, her family also knows how be quiet and also how to sign proficiently.

How boringly convenient.

Had I written this? Perfectly fine if Ally was deaf, but for the screen, I’d have made her injury more recent. She’d have yet to come to grips with being hearing impaired and still been trapped on the emotional rollercoaster of her sensory world changing in an instant.

She wouldn’t have had enough time to change the habits formed over a lifetime. Like banging doors, slamming drawers, walking too loudly.

Her family would’ve been total beginners with sign language. Signing wouldn’t be their go-to way to communicate because they’d have yet to fully acclimate to having a daughter who couldn’t hear after well over a decade where she could.

They might still call out to her.

What was also boringly convenient? The grandmother was a retired nurse there to tend any injuries on the spot. NO! Make them suffer! Society is breaking down, for heaven’s sakes! Society imploding includes no longer being able to run to an urgent care when you need stitches and the correct antibiotic.

Without instant access to even basic medical care, the characters would have been forced to face how much they took for granted as well as learn new skills and take bigger risks…that could and SHOULD have created bigger problems.

For instance, they do their best stitching a deep wound, only for the stitches to go septic. OR? Stealing an antibiotic from a ravaged pharmacy only to find out it’s great for respiratory infections but does zilch for skin infections. Oh, and the injured person is violently allergic to it and goes into anaphylaxis…LOUDLY.

Great storytelling needs to bring out our inner sociopaths. Great writers will kill CHRISTMAS if we have to.

Up the Ante, Then Up it Some MORE

We are talking END OF THE WORLD…so make it worse. The screenwriters could have traded the preteen brother for a toddler or at least a much younger child. If the grandmother was still going to be included in the party, maybe make it where she’s in the early stages of dementia. She’s fine during the early hours of the day, but by late afternoon she’s dangerously emotional, confused, unpredictable, aggressive and prone to wander off (Sundowners syndrome).

Regardless, to make this story work on screen, the entire family (and even Ally)—in my POV—should have still had the habits of people used to being constantly VERBAL, accustomed to talking as their primary way to communicate. They’d probably even be unaware how much they talked just to talk.

Like talking to yourself. Shouting expletives when you bang your shin on the coffee table.

***For the record, my son (Spawn) and I would be dead within the day a couple hours if survival hinged on us being quiet.

This would have been the FIRST major hurdle to overcome. Imagine trying to run for your life and you keep having to refer to a sign language guide or scribble in a notebook (silently) to get even a basic point across.

‘The Silence’ Needed More Peril, Less CGI

Had Ally’s hearing loss been more recent, the family wouldn’t have had time to adjust. Add in a much younger sibling (age 5-6) or a grandparent with some unpredictable medical condition not easily managed or controlled (I.e. schizophrenia, Tourette’s, Parkinson’s) and the tension would have been through the ROOF.

The story problem would have forced character growth.

They would have all had to make big changes, tough choices and take incredible risks for the ‘weaker’ members of the group. In fact, I imagine had the screenwriters modified the story and character group in the ways I’ve suggested (or in a similar fashion) they wouldn’t have even needed any CGI.

Bird Box didn’t.

But, since The Silence screenwriters fixated on monsters and gore and cults, this only rendered the story family a gaggle of utterly forgettable—and borderline unlikable—characters.

Ally only ‘stood out’ because she had a superficial difference of being hearing impaired.

But LUCKILY, everyone in the family already had an A+ in being quiet.


The Silence is Melodrama NOT Drama

The Silence, The Silence Movie, screenwriting, Kristen Lamb

Why all the griping? Other than I needed to gain something from the 90 minutes I can never get back? Movies, as I mentioned earlier, can teach us a lot about storytelling. Heck, one of THE best books about how to write is actually about screenwriting. Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat is a must-read!

***Amazon, are you reading? Y’all have the book in stock. Gift copies to your screenwriters, please.

In The Silence, the Vesps present an excellent end-of-the-world backdrop, but that’s all they are. They compel action that forces this family out of their comfort zone and into doing the unthinkable.

As is, the Vesps are simply a ‘bad situation,’ and the cult is an afterthought. The family is flat because the central story problem doesn’t present a focused core challenge overwhelming enough to force them to (authentically) grow from humans into heroes.

Just like the family needed weaknesses from the get-go, so did the Vesps. Not some bull sprinkles, ‘Oh they don’t like cold’ crap thrown out at the end…just after the cult showed up.

So in your own stories, remember structure is our friend. It lets us know who and what should show up when and where. When we REALLY understand structure, we can even bend and break those rules to surprise the audience…in a good way.

By understanding our core story problem, we can make sure we have a cast that will offer the path of greatest resistance. Every character will count.

What Are Your Thoughts? I LOVE Hearing from You!

Do you watch movies and pick them apart? Try and figure out ways the screenwriters could have done better? I read a TON of books, but I also actively watch movies, meaning I study structure, characters, dialogue, what I liked and what I didn’t.

I KNOW that books are pretty much always better than the movies, but that doesn’t mean screenwriters can’t pull off a fantastic film version of the longer work. This is why I often WILL read the book even if the movie adaptation made me want to throw myself off a water tower was bad.


What are some great movies that originated as books? Some of your favorites? Why did they work? What did the screenwriters keep/jettison? How did they condense or change it to keep the story in tact on screen?

Conversely, what are some of the largest tragedies you’ve seen on film. Doesn’t even have be a book adaptation. Can you think what the screenplay could have done differently to improve the experience?

I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments because that helps me, too!


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  1. One of the best is the Lord of the Ring trilogy. Thankfully the writers, and Peter Jackson as director, didn’t try to cram the length of six books into a movie, or even 3 movies. There is always something that doesn’t make the cut. And it’s always someone’s favorite part. Tom Bobadilla’s story was left out. The Scouring of the Shire was left out, which is the set-up for the end of Saruman and the reason both Bilbo and Frodo ended up going over the water to the West.

    Even with those changes, the story flowed well and, except for the nerdling Tolkien fans, most people didn’t even know them to miss them. We got to see the characters inside the story we read and loved and it was so tightly done that the flow wasn’t jangled by the missing parts.

    On the worst, my vote is True Blood (HBO). I LOVE the Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris but the show was so far from the books, it wasn’t even close. You had a few of the characters, Bill Compton, Sookie Stackhouse, Erik Northman, Tara Thornton, and Lafayette Reynolds, but after the first season, the story took such a turn that it wasn’t even close to the books. That’s not to say there wasn’t great scenes, but they were so far away from the books, it was just not the same. Jessica Hamby is a TV construct, never in the books, and while I loved the evolution of her character, it was hard to accept her completely. While i was thrilled that they didn’t kill Lafayette off in the series (I love his character), the other changes seemed to get further and further from the books to the point that Bill is following the vampire goddess and everyone was bathed in blood. By the last season, I was done. I never finished watching the series.

    And it’s the reason why I won’t ever give Fangs & Halos to movie/television without retaining complete creative control and writing the scripts myself. So, with that demand, it’s never going to happen. The butchery of Southern Vampire/True Blood was just so wrong.

    • Anna Erishkigal on March 2, 2021 at 5:00 pm
    • Reply

    I haven’t seen “The Silence” yet, but from what you describe, it sounds more like a cheap knock-off of “A Quiet Place” than “The Bird Box,” right down to the blind creatures which hunt by sound and the deaf teenage girl. If you want excellent sci-horror, then I HIGHLY recommend you snag “A Quiet Place.” And read the script … the script itself is a work of art.

    1. That, I think, was the one I thought we were playing. It was right before we got slammed with the snow storm here. I wanted to turn it off, but Hubby insisted we finished…even though he yelled at the screen as much as me, LOL. I have corrupted him, BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA.

  2. Kinda tired of the “And Something Happens” horror movies where monsters from outta nowhere wipe out civilization. I’d sooner believe aliens rampaging the Earth, or these Vesps tear-assing around a small area, for the very reasons you cite. Besides if I want “It happened for no reason”, I’ll watch CNN or just go outside. Nice post! I’m a follower.

    1. LOL, thanks. Yeah one thing that did kind of bug me about the book was that scientists (the cavers) were deliberately seeking out ecosystems that had been completely cut off from the rest of how the Earth evolved. Yet they didn’t take ANY precautions. No thought to, “Hey, we might let out a virus, fungus, bacteria that could decimate the global population (Vesps aside).” They just go jackhammering into a walled off portion of the Earth’s innards and had zero thought to what they could unleash. You have any idea how many tests the moon rocks had to undergo after the first moon landing to make sure we weren’t infecting the world with some alien virus or dangerous particles?

      They didn’t put up any barriers, any shielding, no one was in a HAZMAT suit, NOTHING.

      But then, at the end of the book, one of the MCs was musing how scientists and smart people in bunkers were figuring out a solution. And I was all, UM, SCIENTISTS CAUSED THE DAMN PROBLEM BY BEING RECKLESS!

  3. This book was one of my favorite reads in 2017. I honestly raved about it to everyone. I finished it and got online immediately to see where I could get the sequel, and…crickets. Tons of other books in other series by the author, but nothing to follow this one up. The book ended on the most cliffiest of cliffhangers, and he apparently has no intention of writing a sequel. I’m still twisted about it. And ugh, the movie. So disappointing…

  4. I always thought that being deaf in a (life or death) situation that requires silence would put you at a major disadvantage. Sure, you and people close to you may have the advantage of knowing sign language… But, a lot of deaf people don’t know when they’re making sound. Hell, a lot of deaf kids have to be told that farts make noise. A deaf person, even if they had previously had hearing, can THINK they’re being quiet when they’re actually not. That’s a BIG problem.

    1. My brother, who attended the School for the Deaf and Blind in Florida (same school Stevie Wonder went to) made the same comment. He was all, “Deaf people are SERIOUSLY loud! Even when signing they make grunts and noises and they often have no clue they are making a racket.” But, the post was long enough. I am half-deaf (lost part of my hearing in an accident years ago) and am constantly being yelled at for being too noisy. I had the same thoughts, LOL.

    • Wynn Guthrie on March 2, 2021 at 6:43 pm
    • Reply

    OMG the countryside is quiet?

    Tell that to my neighbor’s horses. Or our cows. Or my neurotic freakin’ “I-must-bark-at-the-cows-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence-I-SAID-STAY-OUT!!” dog. Or the coyotes. Or that fox (ever hear a fox? Eerie. Sounds like screaming).

    Is screenwriting really that difficult to do well? I wonder if it’s a problem of TV/film pushing the boat out with effects and overdramatization and, in case you didn’t get it, HERE IS THE DRAMA OVER HERE RIGHT HERE SEE THE SIGNNNN??? OKAY WE’LL LIGHT UP THE SIGN FOR YOU THERE YOU SEE IT NOW RITE?

    My grown daughter and I are now catching up to the second season of “The Alienist,” which is based on Caleb Carr’s excellent follow-up, The Angel of Darkness. It’s a considerably *less* creepy book than The Alienist (less blood, less gruesome violence, zero cannibalism, but more early police detection methods and more early criminal psychology, and therefore more interesting to me) — but TNT has gone all-in on the gruesome stuff and skipped over a good bit of what made the book so chilling.

    Sigh. It’s a shame. (Also a shame that Carr didn’t continue with this series, but that’s not my point.)

    1. I watched the series and remember liking it, but not enough for it to be memorable. I’m thrilled to hear it’s derived from BOOKS. Now, I have new fiction to add to the list.

      And yeah. We had a ranch for many years and THE COUNTRY IS NOT QUIET! The noise is simply different. Granted it isn’t the chaotic nightmare of a NYC, but it’s simply a different kind of noisy. Um…cicadas? Coyotes? Tractors?

    • nightsmusic on March 2, 2021 at 7:00 pm
    • Reply

    I do watch movies and pick them apart. I have not, however, seen this one. I did watch Bird Box. I had a huge problem with several things that were just wrong in that movie. I imagine the book was probably much better, I’ve not read it though they usually are. But two of the biggest problems in Bird Box, the movie, was using the back up camera in the car and please, the birds in the cage when the boat tipped over? Drowned in an instant! But no, a minute and a half passes before the birds are ‘saved’ for the sake of the story. This was not my favorite movie.

    One of my favorites, and it committed a huge faux pas thanks, not to the writers, but to the studio, is an old one titled Curse of the Demon with Dana Andrews. Have you seen it? The writers never wanted the demon to be seen. Sadly, the studio didn’t like that and thought people should be able to see the demon and in fact, introduced him in the first 10 minutes of the story. While the story is still excellent, I think anyway, never seeing the demon would have been perfect.

    And please don’t get me started on Bridgerton…

    Jane T on FB

    1. Yes, there were probably picky things I could go on about with ‘Bird Box’ but, for me, when it came to broad strokes? Great movie and YES, the movie cannot hold a candle to the book, BUT for an adaptation did remarkably well.

      I agree with ‘The Curse.’ I think often, moviemakers want to show off CGI and special effects, and they do so at the expense of the story. NOT seeing a thing makes it scarier. Case in point? ‘Paranormal Activity’ (the first one). You NEVER see the demon, but that movie is TERRIFYING. Of course, buoyed by success, they kept making more and then comes in the CGI and it all becomes…meh.

      Thanks so much for such a thoughtful comment!

      1. I think the most egregious usage of CGI has to be Zack Snyder’s Justice League. This has to be the most over-produced, under-edited, self-indulgent piece of crap I’ve ever seen. Complete waste of four hours.

    • nightsmusic on March 2, 2021 at 7:02 pm
    • Reply

    Are you moderating comments?

    1. Yes, I have to hand-approve and was at the gym 🙂 .

  5. Haven’t seen either film or read either book – living in the middle of fields (after a lifetime in town) I only watch horror films by accident these days. But, as an aspiring writer who’s read loads of advice about plotting and storylines, I found your gripes incredibly useful as illustrations of storytelling in action (or not). It kept me reading till the (eventual) end.

    • MJ on March 3, 2021 at 10:29 am
    • Reply

    Ahhh….Thank you! This post was SO refreshing Kristen, you have no idea how much i loved it. It is the gospel truth that everyone is so much more terrified of things they cannot see…. finally someone points this out! All my love….

  6. One book to movie that comes to mind is Susan Isaacs’ Shining Through. When I saw the movie (years ago in the theatre) I didn’t realize it was based on the book I’d read quite some time before that. Considering all the story covered, I thought they did a decent job with the movie. I haven’t seen either of the movies you discuss here, but as I’m reading I’m wondering how many Vesps there are. Enough to take over the entire world? Shooting them isn’t the answer? A flame thrower? I’m sure there’s a reason weapons don’t work, but I doubt I’ll read the book to find out. Horror is not my thang. 🙂 But analyzing and rewriting what would have worked better in a movie is.

    1. Unlike the movie, the book didn’t rely on shock and gore. VERY well-written and wonderful characters and insight into larger issues (our interconnected world, over-reliance on technology, lost skills, etc.). It’s worth a read and a study. It was incredibly deep.

    • Jean Lamb on March 3, 2021 at 11:20 pm
    • Reply

    My husband and I once walked into a casino in Las Vegas and there was a huge crowd of deaf people arguing with each other (I could tell it was an argument because of the body language and some additional signs that we *all* know). But as someone said above, this is more of a knockoff of “A Quiet Place” (in fact, the protagonist is a heavily pregnant woman who has to give birth silently, eeek!).

    And I favor the use of Slim Whitman songs to get the Alien Guys preoccupied (it might even explode their brain the same as in MARS ATTACKS).

    And you’re so right about the country not being quiet! Bears are notoriously good at smacking things around, the birds argue over who gets the best seeds in the lilac bush, and so on. We had pigeons that *knocked over* the birdfeeder because they were mad it was empty.

  7. I really enjoyed the film version of The Lord of the Rings – but when it came to The Hobbit I didn’t even manage to finish the trilogy. The difference? Even though they both made changes, LOTR stayed in tune with the spirit of the book, whereas The Hobbit morphed into some sort of Hollywood action-packed CGI-reliant let’s-toss-in-a-love-triangle-and-some-sexy-banter blockbuster series that bore a passing resemblance to a book by Tolkien.

    Similarly with adaptations of Agatha Christie novels. Some (generally the older ones) stick to the original plot with a few extra flourishes possible with film. Others (the more modern ones) chuck in STUFF! HAPPENING! EVERYWHERE! and don’t bother with piddling little details like whether what passes for the plot post-Agatha makes any sense at all.

  8. I thought the same thing! I live with 2 people who are not fully deaf but have profound hearing loss. They have NO IDEA how loud they are, because they don’t hear it. They also don’t hear things like dripping faucets or running toilets or a screen door banging in the wind. And the hearing people in the family would still talk to each other, they would just sign simultaneously. The entire family doesn’t stop talking just because one person is deaf.

  9. Smart and LOL funny and you know what–some great storytelling right here in this piece. I don’t even feel any need to watch the movie anymore. But I will look for the book. What did you think of The Quiet Place? I’m going to feature this in my next newsletter. Thanks for the nice writing day break, which I can even justify more than cake.

    1. I haven’t seen that yet. I think I accidentally watched this one mistaking it for ‘The Quiet Place.’ I look forward to your piece on that. Need to watch it. I know the last big conference where I spoke, Angela Ackerman happened to be there and she used ‘A Quiet Place’ as an excellent example of showing not telling. I goofed it up and watched this nightmare and was sure I’d bungled it because no way Angela would recommend this travesty.

      Great to see you here! I am honored and humbled 🙂 . (((HUGS))

    • Clare Adkin on March 28, 2021 at 5:02 pm
    • Reply

    Kristen, Your blog should be mandatory reading for all aspiring writers. Obviously, you are back and with a vengeance! A couple of years ago the leader of a writing group I was a member of suggested we read your blog. To understate, my leader was demanding and irreverent–a chip off your block. I love writing but fear I’ve started too late, 78 three days ago. However, not too old to learn and you have taught me a ton. My daughter, Katie, possesses many of the human qualities/attitudes and mindset that you promote. At the present time she and her husband are struggling with careers, raising a family and looking in on ageing parents. I’m recommending that she latch on to your blog. I think katie really wants to be a writer and your blog could be the kick-start she needs! Thank you, Clare

    1. Great to meet you. I was back with a vengeance then Hubby went in to have a mole removed and turned out to be melanoma. Oy! We just have to keep at it. Life will never be ‘convenient.’ I’m thrilled to meet you and thanks for such a lovely compliment.

  1. […] way to fixing it. Gabriela Houston discusses intimate vs. epic narration, Kristen Lamb points to common story-telling flaws in horror, and Janice Hardy examines how the midpoint reversal works and asks: does your novel have a […]

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